Tim Clinton, Ed.D. and Max Davis
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.”
— Psalm 51:14
“If you’re married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife ‘I love her’ the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity? And that’s how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life.”
What defines you? What one word encapsulates all of the plans you have for your life?
For some it’s achievements. For others it might be possessions… prestige… power.
God has a different perspective. What matters to Him most of all is love. In fact Jesus declared “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)
The word “love” is used in the English Standard Version of the Bible over 500 times. One of my favorites is found in Psalm 91, which is often referred to as the “Psalm of Protection”. In this Psalm, beautiful metaphors – shelter… shadow… fortress… refuge… shield… buckler… habitation… dwelling – are used to describe God’s awesome power and protection.
In verse 14 God tells us what’s behind His preservation and deliverance;
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him. I will protect him, because he knows my name.” (Psalm 91:14 ESV)
In the original Hebrew, the term “holds fast” implies binding or adhering or clinging. When trouble, trials and temptations rise up to meet us, the core of what God declares as necessary for us to experience His safeguard and protection is to cling to Him in love.
This image is echoed by Jesus when answering the question of “What is the greatest commandment?” “He (Jesus) said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37 ESV)
We have no ability in ourselves to love God. We have the capacity to love Him with our entire being for only one reason – because He first loved us. “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us…” (1 John 4:10 ESV)
When life’s not the way it’s supposed to be – when the wheels are coming off the bus — when nothing makes sense – cling to the Lord and rest assured of His “steadfast love” for you. He loved you so much that He stretched out his hands and let them drive nails into them. Jesus’ kind of love is not for wimps, but for real men.
I also love the precept found in Romans 8 when the Apostle Paul asks this critical question; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35 ESV) Paul answers his own question in two parts:
He first declares that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 ESV) The very things that would seem to overwhelm us – trials… stress… money… danger… are actually opportunities for us to become conquerors – warriors full of His power and strength.
The waves that distress an ordinary swimmer produce great joy to a surfer trained to ride and conquer them.
Paul then declares that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)
The remarkable truth is that nothing can wedge itself between the undeserved, fathomless love of God and those who call Him Father. Nothing.
Love is not for wimps. It takes a true man to love, a champion. Jesus showed his love for us by taking our place on the cross, by letting those Roman soldiers drive nails into his hands and feet. No, love is not for wimps.
Stand strong, hold fast to Him and love Him with your entire being.
Tim Clinton, Ed.D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who is married to Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.